Welcome to My Little Oratory (And a Giveaway!)

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I know we’ve been talking a lot about books lately, but there are so many good books coming out of the Catholic blogosphere right now! Cari Donaldson’s Pope Awesome, Jen Fulwiler’s Something Other Than God, Sarah Mackenzie’s Teaching from Rest, and now The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home by David Clayton and Like Mother Like Daughter’s Leila Lawler (and illustrations by LMLD’s Deirdre Folley).

When Daniel and I wrote Feast!, our book of reflections and recipes for the Christian Year, we wanted to offer a resource for making the kitchen and the dinner table connected to the seasons and to our Catholic faith. Our hope is that it helps orient the kitchen and the dinner table toward faith. But the kitchen and the dining room aren’t the only rooms in the house! The practice of faith in the home, the domestic church, should be centered in the sacred space of prayer. And to learn how to do that, I need some help! Here’s where The Little Oratory comes to the rescue.

As a convert to the faith, I often find myself overwhelmed sorting through resources to learn both the big picture ideas about prayer in the domestic church and what the practical application of praying in the home would look like. The Little Oratory beautifully articulates the theological significance of centering the home in prayer, but it doesn’t stop there. It gives practical advice like how to teach little ones to participate in the Rosary right down to ways to find an affordable cloth to place on your family altar and how to launder it.

Clayton and Lawler (known as Auntie Leila around here) teach you how to create a “little oratory” which is a physical spot in your home in the form of a family altar or an icon corner but they also articulate the idea of making “room” in your home for prayer.

We’ve had a little family altar for awhile now, but I learned so much about cultivating that space and about prayer in the home. Here’s what our altar looks like:

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I’ve been meaning to get a Noli Me Tangere image to balance the Madonna of the Book by Botticelli, but after reading The Little Oratory, I’m inspired to make lots of improvements! (Oh, and did I mention that in the back of the book there are beautiful iconographic images you can frame and use for your little oratory?)

The Little Oratory a rich resource, but not overwhelming or pushy. After reading it, my response was, “yes! we can do this!” But I also don’t feel pressured to try everything at once.

I was most intrigued by the explanations of introducing the Divine Office into domestic life. And I really appreciate that Vespers, Compline and the other “hours” of the Divine Office can be prayed together and shared with our Christian brothers and sisters from other traditions. How ideal would it be to join together at least once a week with Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox friends to worship and pray in that beautiful way?

I am also convicted and inspired by Auntie Leila’s exhortation to cultivate order in the home. If you’re familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality types, I am the P of all Ps. Organization? Order? I’m sorry, my brain doesn’t work that way. But I know it’s something I need to nurture in my home. Especially when I’m not sick from pregnancy or exhausted during the postpartum days and have enough energy to maintain our home! We already created some order in the kids room and I knew Auntie Leila would NOT APPROVE of the clutter around the sink which should be a space of contemplation for the dish washer, so I remedied that, too:


This is a book I’ll be turning to for years and thanks to Sophia Institute Press, I get to give away a copy of The Little Oratory to a lucky reader AND a copy of Father of the Family by Clayton Barbeau. So lets have a little Father’s Day giveaway fun! (If you’re reading this post in a feed reader, you may need to click over to the actual site to see the giveaway widget.) The giveaway is only available for readers in the U.S. or Canada (due to shipping costs). It ends Sunday, June 8th at midnight so that there’s enough time to ship it to the winner before Father’s Day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And one more thing! Remember the giveaway from Drawstrings? (It closes tomorrow night, so be sure to enter right away for your chance to win one of the custom made bags!) Wanda of Drawstrings has created a special drawstring bag just the right size for your copy of The Little Oratory! Just contact her through her Etsy site to order one!


Disclosure: Review and giveaway copies of The Little Oratory were complimentary and Sophia Institute is a Carrots ad sponsor. As always, I ONLY promote books that I have read and loved and am excited to share with you! (To learn more about advertising or sponsoring giveaways at Carrots for Michaelmas, you can view my advertising page or email me at haley.s.stewart@gmail.com)

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  1. Elizabeth C says

    It’s nice to find little treasures like The Little Oratory. We’ve prayed the hours of the a Divine a Office with the kids for a number of years. We started with the night prayers and worked our way up.

  2. Rebecca says

    I love your review! And I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to win something so much as TLO, especially after reading your review. That, or I’ll just have to buy it really soon because I’ve been waiting too long now.

  3. Kathy H says

    Reading as much as I can while being 1st trimester exhausted, but I am loving it so far! I am not a decorator in any sense so I’m excited when people post their Oratory pics! Is yours in your living room? Love it! And all the extra rosaries too 🙂

  4. Brandi says

    I don’t use Twitter or Facebook, but I am definitely going to add this book to my list of books to buy! I am also a convert (and a new reader…hi!) and always want to set up a place in my teeny apartment devoted to prayer, but I can never figure out where, what, how! I will

  5. says

    When I heard about this on IG I just loved the idea! I love the idea of creating a sacred space within the home and gathering the family in a tradition of prayer. You have a beautiful home alter, I have “Madonna of the Book” above my mantle— and you know about my painting! 😀
    I *think* I entered the giveaway— technology and I have a rocky relationship sometimes 😉

  6. Alicia says

    Thanks Haley! I too have been trying to keep more order in my house (although the toddler doesn’t seem to understand this!). Thanks for the encouragement. That book sounds like a great find! Thanks again and happy weekend=)

  7. says

    In old Hispanic homes there was always an altar, candles lit, a place to go and pray and reflect. It is something I plan to bring to my home and something that always reminds me of home.

  8. says

    I would LOVE a copy of this. I’ve been enjoying seeing the internet light up over it and can’t wait to pour over it myself. Thank you Haley, thank you Auntie Leila!

  9. luisa says

    Hi Haley! I went through the same “Great Purge” I called it when my son was about 1 (same as your Gwen). I went through every room in the house getting rid of stuff again and again until I knew everything that was in it and I was convinced that I needed it. You actually find that your needs are about 1/4 what you think they are. The key is thinking clearly about what you need on a daily/weekly basis and writing this down before you get started on the purge. Then you look at the shelf and imagine what it should look like. Then you know when to stop because you have already thought about what your essentials are. At the end of the process, you feel so good!!!

    Also, I was going to mention that I bought The Little Oratory shortly before you started mentioning it on your blog. I haven’t opened it yet, but I am excited to. The only thing I would mention though is that don’t exhaust yourself, either with housework or prayer. No one benefits from this. It’s all about marginal changes that lead to big ones, you know what I mean? And I also believe that God doesn’t need our lives to be mirrored after nuns in a convent, he understands our state in life and that the needs of our children is constant. What he does want and expect from us is that every small act of our day is united to him in love and discernment of his will. This is what gives him the most pleasure and will bring us to be with him in heaven.



    • Haley says

      What an awesome comment, Luisa! So much good stuff in here. I love the idea of writing down what we actually use on a weekly basis! I think I’m going to tackle the Kitchen and storage room this weekend (we already did the kids’ room a couple of weeks ago) and keep going room by room. That way only one room will be completely taken apart at a time and I’ll be able to see a marked different when I finish each room.

      And such good advice about taking things slow. I definitely tend to jump into things with both feet and then get burned out.

  10. Luisa Agnes says

    Thanks Haley!! You are generous with your love when God gives you the light of faith! I do not want to discourage you when the Spirit has moved you…. Sorry! Although I guess I wrote it BC sometimes I find myself feeling quickly overwhelmed by how much more I could give to Jesus and how I want to give him everything but then how sad he must be that I don’t. And that is when I receive his gentleness and love and above all his patience with me. Actually, I was having one of those days when I posted my response to you but this friend of mine quoted what I wrote to you from St Paul, although much more eloquently, on her FB page and it changed my day and I felt called to share it with you.

    Another tip about the, “great purge”: if you find yourself saying, “I could potentially use this if…” Then pitch it. You will never use it. I also found saving suitcases to be a foolish endeavor, on any given trip, how much would my whole family need? You get the idea…

  11. Amber says

    Hey Haley,

    Gotta love Auntie Lelia. I haven’t read the Little Oratory yet but I really need to get on that.

    As for Myers-Briggs, did you mention what your full personality type is? I’m a P too, an INFP to be exact. What are the rest of your traits other than the P.


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